Manila Bulletin : Marcos: PH won't give up maritime territory, but won't go to war either

By Ellson Quismorio | Manila Bulletin

President-elect Bongbong Marcos underscored Thursday, May 26 that his administration won’t give up any part of the Philippines’ coastal territory to foreigners, but at the same time noted that it he wants to avoid a war.

“Our sovereignty is sacred and we will not compromise it in any way, we are a sovereign nation with a functioning government…We do not need to be told by anyone how to run our own country…there’s no room for negotiation there… it is sacred and inviolable, so that is my approach to sovereignty,” Marcos said during a Facebook live interview with select media.

“I have already said this before, considering in the WPS (West Philippine Sea) that there have been these conflicts, we will not allow a single square, and maybe make it even more smaller, [a] single square millimeter of our maritime coastal and up to 200-kilometer rights to be trampled upon,” he said, apparently referring to the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

According to the former UniTeam candidate, the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) July 2016 ruling, which invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea (SCS) may be used to further enforce the protection of the Philippines’ territorial borders. The WPS is within the SCS.

“Nasa atin na yung arbitral ruling (We already have the arbitral ruling). So of course we will…we have a very important ruling in our favor and we will use it to continue to assert our territorial rights. It’s not a claim, it is already our territorial right. And that is what (sic) the arbitral ruling can help us,” Marcos said.

At any rate, the incoming Chief Executive said in the same interview that he intend to have continued discussions with China, the expansive maritime claims of which have been a cause for concern in the region for years now.

“How do we do this? We strengthen our… you know lets not… we’re talking about China and how do we do that? We talk to China consistently with a firm voice and we say na, ‘Eh hindi naman natin puwedeng gyerahin, gusto ba natin gawin ‘yun manggyera pa tayo ngayon?’ Papasok tayo sa gyera? (We can’t go to war against them, do we want to go to war at this point? We’ll enter in a war?) Thats the last thing we need right now,” Marcos said.

“So we have to continue to discuss with them the conflicting claims that we have with China, and that China has with other members of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). And I think ASEAN will still be a very critical part of that discusson

“But nonetheless, we also have to continue to pursue bilateral contact and communication with China…In fact this is what I mentioned when I spoke to [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping], he called me to congratulate me on winning the election…I said we have to continue to talk about this, this cannot be allowed to fester and to become more severe in terms of a problem between our two countries,” Marcos said.